Cert U Stars 4
Warm your heart with Disney’s magical animated sequel which surpasses the first for fun and adventure and is guaranteed to enchant a new generation of young female fans.
Sticking rigidly to the formula which made the first film a billion dollar success back in 2013, it sees key members of the original cast and crew return on an action-packed sleigh ride of sisterly solidarity, gorgeous animation, comedy sidekicks and yes, inspirational, uplifting and impossible to ignore or forget power ballads.
Queen Elsa and Princesss Anna are living peacefully in happy kingdom of Arendelle, but when Elsa is troubled by a mystery strange siren call only she can hear, the country is attacked by dark magical elemental forces.
So in order to save their kingdom the sisters take their loyal companions, Olaf the snowman, Kristoff and Sven the reindeer, into the mysterious enchanted northern forest which their parents had always warned them to stay away from.
Directed again by Chris Buck & Jennifer Lee in the style of musical theatre on ice, the animation and design are as great as you’d expect, with astonishing textures and attention to detail right down to the smallest stitch or snowflake.
All the major characters get their chance to sing, including the reindeer. They’re composed by double Oscar winning couple Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez.
As the headstrong, inquisitive and impetuous Elsa, Broadway legend Idina Menzel expressing her remarkable range and power in a full-throated performance, especially with the show-stopping and beautifully staged self-empowerment ballad “Show Yourself”.
Kristen Bell as loyal and brave Anna sings the haunting lullaby “All Is Found”, Jonathan Groff as the Dim well meaning Kristoff is given the 1980s style soft rock parody “Lost in the Woods”.
And squeaky voiced Josh Gad as Olaf the snowman gets his own joyous song about embracing change and not being afraid of growing up called “When I Am Older”.
And yes, the inescapable song “Let It Go” is given a mischievous and mercifully brief airing.
Olaf the snowman is once again the film’s most valuable player, a chilly chatterbox of innocence and humour who will have the little kids giggling in the aisles.
Plus he gets to deliver a very funny whistle-stop refresher of the first film for those of us fortunate not to have had to watch it on a loop for half a decade. Thank the lord for my having a son not a daughter.
Recognised it’s the little girls which made the first a global phenomenon are now teenagers with a different set of priorities, we’re given a romantic subplot involving the lovelorn Kristoff, showing how difficult and confusing courtship can be for the inexperienced.
Among the shipwrecks, missing parents, and long-standing unresolved conflicts, there are tiny cute dragons, ferocious water steeds, fearsome rock giants and a loveable herd of reindeer.
Elements of Brigadoon and The Lords of the Rings are added to the original inspiration of Hans Christian Andersen’s fairy tale The Snow Queen, and underneath all that there’s the unmistakeable DNA of smash Broadway show, Wicked, in which Menzel also starred.
Messages of seizing the day, reaching one’s potential, love triumphing over danger and the importance of building bridges not walls are added to a story which touches on the darkness of colonialism.
But Disney recognise the need to give the audience what they want and always put the entertainment first, and by allowing the characters to grow they keep the story fresh they leave the door firmly open for another sequel.